Take a look at any model on the runway, and it’s easy to see what a huge difference great makeup can make. Those same models are almost unrecognizable when caught dressed-down and makeup free. Just like on the runway, eyes will be on you as a bride, so it’s natural to want to enhance your natural look as much as possible.

But it’s not always a straightforward choice. Should you go all smoky eye, or should you stick with natural and nude? And what about all the fun and pretty colors out this season? Can you wear your new favorite shade of peach, or do you have to stick with classic colors to achieve a timeless look?

To answer these questions and more, we turned to some of the city’s most talented makeup professionals, including Kelly LeBlanc of New Orleans Bridal Makeup (441-8025, neworleansbridalmakeup.com). “We find the ‘Mad Men’ style—soft, dewy looking skin with black on the lash bed—looks really pretty on a lot of people,” she says.

This year, there are great, gold shimmery colors, which can look nice and not too trendy. While many brides stay away from shimmer, LeBlanc adds, the pigments are ground so fine now that brides can use them more liberally. Another color to try is lavender, which can look pretty when it’s high on the cheekbones.

“Most important of all, girls want their grooms to cry because they look so beautiful, not because they don’t recognize them,” LeBlanc says. “So we make sure our brides never look over-trended with new ideas or colors. We incorporate a lot of blending so the look is natural and beautiful.”

When thinking about your own makeup, remember to plan enough time. LeBlanc likes brides to come in between four months to a year before the wedding and take a look at the salon’s look book. The salon can then work on colors that will go well with your skin tones and develop a perfect look.
Laurie Baldo of Salon M (4336 Canal St., 304-6525, salonmno.com) says coppers and reds are also very popular right now and they always create a “WOW” factor. Another trend is a cleaner look for the nail, such as a soft white.

Baldo suggests that brides take time researching looks they like. “The best place to start is with a photograph of other brides you’ve seen, personal photos where you like your makeup or ideas torn from a magazine,” she says. “Then you can decide if you’re going with pinks and nudes, or you want more definition and color, but always without it looking like stage makeup.”

Baldo adds that Salon M has great makeup lines that are humidity resistant and waterproof. Baldo usually stays until after the wedding photographs are done, in case anyone needs a touch-up.

Another local expert, Ashley Merritt at The Makeup Lab (call 666-3795 for an appointment, themakeuplabartistry.com), who has worked at New York Fashion Week and Vanity Fair to name a few, says makeup should be comfortable to wear and cohesive with everything else. “It should be inspired by the personality of the bride and the wedding day she has created,” Merritt says.

Merritt adds that brides should aim for a timeless style. “Normally we stay away from too many colored eyes and chiseled cheekbones, which is very 1980s,” she says. “Too brown and matte is too 1990s.  If you have very pale skin and you go too dark, it looks too gothic. But if a bride is very colorful herself and wants it bright, we’ll make it work.“

One timeless style is a smoky eye with a red lip, but makeup artists still match it to the skin tone and personality of the bride. “If [a bride] is gentle and quiet, she might want a sheer rather than a matte red lip,” Merritt adds. One color doesn’t work for everyone though, so it’s important to find the perfect shade for you.

It is also important to think of the venue and time of day. If your wedding is at night or indoors, there will be more flash photography, which means more highlighting and sculpting.

“As the weather down here is so hot, we make sure all skin is prepared beforehand and then the makeup is sealed with a spray when finished,” Merritt says. “If a wedding is in the peak of summer, we’ll make sure we use primers and oil control products. We have a lot of secrets that can help.”

Natalie Chosa at Glamour Therapy (3634 Magazine St., 617-8585, glamtherapynola.com) advises brides that the dress usually tells you what kind of makeup it needs. She, too, says a lot depends on the season. For a summer wedding you should go lighter, and for winter you can wear more reds and coppers.

As for trends, Chosa says brides can also incorporate a season’s colors into flowers, ribbons in the hair or shoes to give a pop of color.

“This year we’ve seen some pretty coral and orange colors which we could work in, but always go for a timeless look,” Chosa says. “We find a classic 1940s red lip and perhaps a little gold on the eyes will never look dated.”

Chosa says her job is to help brides shine and be the best version of themselves that they can be. “If we make a bride feel beautiful she will look even more gorgeous,” she adds.

The team at Glamour Therapy also likes to create a fun atmosphere while the bridal party gets ready. There is often champagne or lunch. “We always do the bride last and make sure she is finished an hour before the wedding so she has time to put on her dress and go,” Chosa adds. “We want her to look as fresh as possible.  

With such high-definition cameras, you don’t need a lot of makeup these days, but as the wedding goes on, Chosa recommends that brides should pay attention to shine and touching up the lips; the rest should be fine, even with all the emotions of the day.

“If a bride starts tearing up, we recommend just dabbing the corner of the eye but no wiping,” Chosa says. “Brides should also carry a little powder, lipstick, hairspray, blotting papers and a small vial of perfume to stay fresh.”

Ashley Sievert (ashley.melzer@yahoo.com, ashleysievert.com), an independent makeup artist who has built her business solely through referrals, says, “I usually see brides two or three times before their weddings as I do their makeup for portraits and parties and their look just comes organically,” Sievert says. “My trademark is a ‘glamourized natural’ and just like celebrities, I ensure my brides have enough makeup on to look great both in real life and in the photographs.”

One of her secrets is an “incredible foundation;” she also uses a lot of neutral tones with copper and bronze and often with a metallic tint to make the eyes pop.

“I also feel that brides can use almost any color they want, as long as they don’t go overboard,” Sievert says. “It certainly depends on their personality and they might combine a brighter eye with a lighter lip, but they shouldn’t be afraid of color.”

If you want to incorporate color into your wedding day makeup, Sievert recommends jewel tones because they never go out of style. She also loves to add false eyelashes because “they just never fail to work.”

Tisa Camet of Tisa Beauty Bar (5421 Magazine St., 891-8992) wanted to emphasize that brides should hydrate the skin really well beforehand so the makeup stays as fresh as possible. “Brides can have fun with two different looks for the rehearsal and event itself,” Camet says. “One trick I use for all the events is a brightener under the eye so all my brides look luminescent. I also find that brides like a bright eye paired with pretty pinks on the cheek and lip to go with your natural blush.”

And if you’re worried about a zit on the big day, have no fear.

 “If a bride does have a breakout, don’t worry,” she says. “I can make it disappear like magic.”